When I was at the Inman technology conference in San Fransisco in August, the subject of Augmented Reality was being bandied around during the technology sessions and I thought it time to have a look at how it will impact not only the small business owner but also the consumer.

Firstly, what is Augmented Reality? The concept has been around since the early 90’s, but it’s really only been in the last 12 months that the technical world has gone ga ga over it and if not for the onslaught of Twitter, you’d probably have heard a lot more about it by now. So here is the technical explanation for what it is:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, like for example sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable. Artificial information about the environment and the objects in it can be stored and retrieved as an information layer on top of the real world view.

Ok, there it is, simple really, but what does it do and how can you use it in your business. The easiest way to explain how the technology will work is this, lets imagine you’re walking down a street looking for a good place to eat, you hold up your mobile phone so the screen shows what’s in front of you. What you see are things you couldn’t see before, brightly colored makers that show restaurants and bars, turn the corner and you’ll see the new view on your screen, click on any of the markers and you’ll see customer reviews, menu and price information.

To watch the technology in action here’s a video from Layer, an Android-based application that uses your handset’s GPS location, digital compass and accelerometer to call up geotagged information and superimpose it on the world around you.

YouTube Preview Image

The iPhone application for this technology is now available for download from the Itunes store, so you can imagine the potential this has for the future, and it’s not just small business that will benefit.

This is just a small part of what this technology can do, so I hope I’ve opened the door just a little for you.

There’s one lesson in this for small business, don’t get left behind, make sure you keep up with developments and new technology such as this as it emerges. Your very future may well depend on it.

I’d suggest also reading the post on using QR codes for Small Business

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Be Sociable, Share!